Over the years, numerous drivers have reported that the airbags in their vehicle seemed to deploy for no reason. The fortunate ones escaped with only a scare, while others suffered serious injuries. Drivers and their passengers may be in danger from random airbag deployments, or, in a related safety issue, exploding Takata airbags, which have been at the center of an evolving recall for the past decade. Our airbag injury lawyers trace years of reports of random deployments – and examine what could be causing airbags to go off at random without an accident.
Can an Airbag Go Off Accidentally?
In 1998, Automotive News reported on Kerri Valecek, an Illinois mother found dead in a “virtually undamaged” 1994 Mitsubishi Mirage whose airbag had mysteriously deployed, and Felicia Jones, a Maryland woman who claimed to have torn tendons and injured her elbow when her airbag deployed for no reason. In 2011, 13 years later, NBC Chicago published an article titled “Drivers Startled, Injured by Exploding Airbags,” in which reporters interviewed Lisa Jarrett, driver of a 2003 GMC Envoy XL, who recalled, “I was not speeding. I had not even gotten up to 25 miles per hour,” adding that she had not struck any potholes, either. And in 2017, a Canadian news site told the story of Rick and Joanne Yuke, who survived a frightening incident when airbags in their 2006 Honda Odyssey EX deployed unexpectedly. (“There was a very loud bang,” Rick Yuke stated. “They just went off.”)
These are just a few of many cases in which drivers have reported spontaneous airbag deployments that seemed to occur completely at random, triggered neither by bumpy roads nor excessive speeds nor collisions with other objects. It’s any driver’s nightmare – and until automotive manufacturers are held to more rigorous standards, it could potentially happen to almost anyone.
What Causes Spontaneous Airbag Deployment?
As technology has evolved over the years, engineers and investigators have put forth different theories and explanations for seemingly random airbag deployments. Accident reconstruction expert Tom Green, who examined parts from Jarrett’s SUV, confirmed “that there is something internally wrong with the [airbag] module that I can’t communicate with it.” However, he continued, “I can’t say what’s wrong with it, it seems there is something wrong internally with the module.”
According to Peter Keith, another accident reconstruction expert, who examined the data from the Yukes’ vehicle, “The software misinterpreted the information coming into the vehicle, [and] deployed the airbags when it shouldn’t have.” He added, “This is not unique. I’ve seen this problem before myself.”
Could similar problems be to blame in other crashes and near-misses?
Unfortunately, as safety researcher Sean Kane told NBC, “What’s happening is that these problems are falling in between kind of a gap,” explaining that federal safety investigators may not be addressing these types of issues.
Sadly, as our personal injury lawyers have often written about, airbags have been involved in a number of driver fatalities during the past decade. Defective Takata airbags, which can spray sharp, high-velocity shards of metal shrapnel into drivers’ necks or faces, have been linked to at least 15 fatalities that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been able to confirm. The dangerous, in some cases lethal airbag explosions have been attributed to faulty PSAN airbag inflators manufactured by now-bankrupt Takata, which was fined $1 billion in 2017 in a sprawling fraud case. Approximately $125 million was paid toward Takata accident victims, with $850 million paid toward defrauded auto companies.
Domestic, foreign, and luxury vehicles of numerous makes and models are included in the vast Takata airbag recall, including cars made by Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, and Volkswagen. Our airbag accident lawyers are here to assist if you were hurt in an accident involving an affected vehicle.
Car Accident Lawyers for Injuries Caused by Exploding and Defective Takata Airbags
Airbags are supposed to protect lives – not endanger them. If you or one of your family members was injured in a crash that was caused by an exploding or defective airbag, the car accident lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm can help you hold negligent auto manufacturers responsible. We will fight tirelessly in pursuit of the maximum compensation for the damages you have suffered, such as medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, and damage to personal property. Contact The Reiff Law Firm online to set up a free legal consultation, or call our law offices at (215) 246-9000 to speak with an attorney today.